Google unveils next-gen gaming platform at GDC

By Assistant Editor-in-Chief Sebastian Moronta Blanco.

Google has entered the gaming sphere with a next-generation platform unlike any gaming console currently on the market.

During their press conference on Tuesday at the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, the tech giant revealed an ambitious plan to use Chrome and YouTube as tent poles for a mobile, synchronous gaming experience across multiple devices. Google “Stadia” was announced in full by former Microsoft executive Phil Harrison, who joined Google as it’s new VP to lead this project.

Players will be able to connect to Stadia anywhere they can access Chrome, the company claims. Games will be run from Google Data Centers and streamed to the player’s device, allowing a 4K 60 FPS performance. This is regardless of the player’s hardware capabilities, provided their Internet connection can support it.

While Google made it clear that all existing controller hardware such as Xbox, Nintendo, and Dualshock controllers will be compatible with the new platform, they also unveiled the Google controller, a new piece of hardware that supports direct connectivity to Google’s servers.

It also possesses unique features such as the ability to capture and share “game states” or moments in a video game that other players can experience by following a link shared by the player.

The controller also features a special button to activate the Google assistant, which uses the built-in microphone to take your questions and help you access the web without leaving the game or using a separate device.

Google emphasized the platform’s ability to maintain a player’s progress across all their devices, and demonstrated the technology by first playing last year’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on a laptop. The game was streamed into the chrome browser, and was then paused and transferred to a cell phone where the conference host was able to continue playing from the same spot in-game using a bluetoothecontroller.

Stadia also shares deep integration with YouTube, where viewers who stumble across video games featured in YouTube videos will be able to access that game “within 5 seconds” through a direct link.

YouTube Gaming will see more support in the form of new streamer-friendly features, such as a live queue where viewers can wait to play with their favorite streamer in select titles.

The company confirmed the platform’s launch in 2019 in the US, UK, Canada, and Europe, and teased more information coming in the summer, leading to speculation around an appearance at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), confirming many rumors that Google will have a big presence this year.

There are still many unanswered questions surrounding how players will pay for the service or the games they play.

Titles could be sold individually, although some speculate the service could work like Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that offers unlimited access to a predetermined pool of games for a monthly fee.

The tech demo showed a single new title, Doom Eternal, running on the new platform, and announced that more than one-hundred developers already have dev kits. The conference was aimed at developers and has already created a stir in the industry, who now eagerly awaits other platforms’ response. Microsoft will be closely watched over the next few months as their game-streaming platform, code-named Project Scarlet, has been in development for many years and may now be forced into the spotlight.

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